Former Obama Counsel Indicted For False Statements, Hiding Ukraine Work

Obama lawyer Greg Craig

Former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig was indicted Thursday on charges that he made false statements to investigators and concealed information about his work for Ukrainian officials, the Justice Department announced.

Prosecutors said Craig was indicted over statements he made to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit in October 2017. He faces up to five years in prison for each of the two charged offenses and will be arraigned at a later date.

The former White House counsel was reportedly investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller before the case was referred to the Southern District of New York and then back to prosecutors in Washington, D.C.

The D.C. lawyer, who served as Obama’s White House counsel in 2009 and 2010, is the first known major Democratic figure to be charged in one of the probes stemming from Mueller’s investigation. He was indicted by a grand jury in Washington.

Obama lawyer Greg Craig

Craig was a partner at the New York-based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, which assisted GOP lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in his work lobbying for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

The prominent law firm agreed earlier this year to register as a foreign agent and paid a $4.6 million settlement in the case over questions on whether it had misrepresented its work for the Ukrainian politicians to federal investigators. The firm reportedly blamed Craig over the misleading information, and he left the practice in 2018 amid the investigation.

Manafort pleaded guilty last year to a series of charges related to his lobbying work for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his political party in Ukraine. 

The businessman had hired Skadden to issue a report on behalf of the Ukrainian government that defended its imprisonment of Yanukovych’s political opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister.

The indictment claims that Craig and other members of the law firm exchanged emails in February 2012 discussing potential FARA registration. And in April 2012, Craig signed a formal letter with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, which “specifically stated that Craig and the Law Firm would not perform work requiring them to register under FARA.”

Federal prosecutors say that shortly afterward, Craig sought further advice on whether he and other members of the law firm should register under FARA, and was told that he should not do any public relations work.

Born in 1945, Gregory Craig is currently 74 years of age. He is married to Derry Noyes.